Laura Dixon + Sindhu Rajasekaran

Mermaid

From the dark purple of the deep, you slowly tilt your head towards the surface. Rays of light sparkle through the sea of marijuana green, you close your eyes to hear the beam splash through the water.

Solitude: the painful pleasure of silent contemplation takes hold of you; is it the warmth you feel, the glow of anticipation, or is it the far-away sun? Your cold fingers linger on your arm; you stretch your hands in the water and try to hold the glow in your palms.

You swim toward the light, flapping your tailfin, arcing through the green. Thoughts of him haunt your mind. His fading smile, shattering glass, broken promises. You swivel, let yourself drown, close your eyes.

Away from the sun, the world, the sky. Away from life. You are lost to the world above, you do not exist. You are a mere speck in the deep end of the ocean.

Will he come in search of you? Do you want to be found? Do you want to breathe again? You hold your breath, it doesn’t matter anymore.

You glide for a while, force yourself to smile, but it drifts away as though it never had been. He destroyed you. Maybe you shouldn’t have fallen; you should have hidden amongst the weeds and stayed away from the world.

You think of the day you emerged from the cold blue sea of green, when you breathed. You remember the day you stood by clusters of bog cotton, sunlight filtering through white fluffy clouds, highland winds swirling around you. You felt alive. You cannot feel the joy of beauty anymore. He took everything you had, only the strange gratification of grief remains.

He chose her. You have no reason to breathe. Your heart sinks into itself. The ocean is not as deep as your heart, that chasm.

You spent all your energy in loving him, you have nothing left. You have no strength to hate him. Pain shall take its course. You submitted yourself to the vagaries of love and it’s too late to fight the flow.

Swaying slowly, in a curl, you cease to think.

 

Writer: Sindhu Rajasekaran
Illustrator: Laura Dixon

Devadasi — The Temple Dancer

 

I am her. I dance. I slowly stretch my hand out, hold my fingers together intimating a flower bud. When I open my fingers outwards, the flower blooms. There is a lotus in the temple pond with wet waxy green leaves. The blue sky breaks, I hear the thunder, and I feel myself get drenched in cold water.

I look into the mirror, I see her, but it’s me. There are gold jewels around my neck studded with stones of emerald, ruby and sapphire. There is a tangerine colored bindi on my forehead. I look at the old gilded frame of the mirror, the intricate curving designs on it. I am in the past, in the times of kings and palaces. I look around, everything seems hazy, yet I can clearly see.

He pulls my clothes off me. My chest heaves, and I breathe deeply. I can smell him, like garlic, all over me. He is in me, something gushes through my body. I tilt my head backwards and run my fingers through his curly black hair. I see the mulberry red curtains of the canopy bed fluttering.

I push him away, he pulls me to him. He holds my head in his hard hands and thrusts into me. I want to scream, but she doesn’t. She closes her eyes and tears run down my cheek.

My head feels heavy. I taste the salty water. I’m drowning. She doesn’t want to save herself. I feel the numbing cold pierce my body, but there’s nothing I want to do. I try to stop thinking.

I’m moving to the music of the flute, in front of the temple’s silhouette against the dark blue night sky. Everyone’s watching me intently. My eyes dart, my hand gestures various symbols, I look into the eyes of the man sitting on the throne of precious stones, with peacock feathers spread out behind him. He raises his brows and bites his lower lip. I bow to him and throw a handful of lotus petals at his feet.

I want to scream, I’m naked again, I want to break away, but I’m under him. She closes her eyes tightly and bites the insides of her lips.

Heavenly music plays, of drums, of lutes. She’s dancing again, graciously, like a celestial being. I see her for the first time. She’s outside me. I’m not her, anymore.

He holds her firmly by her hips; she struggles to get out of his grip. He squeezes her flesh like an animal and bites her bare shoulder. She opens her kajal-lined eyes. I look into her pained eyes, an abyss, and it pulls me under.

I’m twirling again, deep in the ocean. I feel heavy in my heart. My eyes are closed, but I can see her gold bangles glitter in the yellow-orange flames of the lamps.

The sky is black with sparkling clusters of crystal pink, turquoise blue and blinding white. I gulp for air. I open my eyes.

 

Writer: Sindhu Rajasekaran
Illustrator: Laura Dixon